OCT 25, 2015, TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, RCL YEAR B

MARK | PART 8:  A BLIND MAN REGAINS HIS SIGHT

A SERMON BY PASTOR CHICO MARTIN

Lections:  Heb 7:23-28; Mark 10:46-52

Jericho: city of palm trees; fragrant moon; everywhere watered by streams.

Jericho:  a low plain surrounded by mountainous country; 846’ below sea level, and 3,320’ lower in elevation than Jerusalem, about 15 miles away.  Jesus has left Perea, crossed the Jordon River, and five miles west, gone through Jericho, before continuing on toward Jerusalem.

Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, a blind beggar:  a man living, literally, in darkness, who represents human nature.[i]  Bartimaeus, who has no way of earning a living, takes the lowest place of all, in utmost despair, as Christ approaches.   Continue reading

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OCT 18, 2015, TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, RCL YEAR B

MARK | PART 7:  JUSTICE AND MERCY

A SERMON BY PASTOR CHICO MARTIN

Lections:  Heb 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45

Sometimes we use words too quickly; a meaning registers, and we move on.  When we hear the phrase, slaves to sin, what does the word slaves mean to us?  We probably think of the white colonial trade in African blacks that is the inescapable atrocity in this country’s history.  Maybe we watched, back in the day, the television broadcast of Alex Haley’s Roots.  We all will have images of the brutality of slavery, and most of us will find these abhorrent.  We know that slavery was once widespread across the world, that blacks enslaved blacks, whites enslaved whites, Native Americans enslaved Native Americans.  We also know that slavery, with all of its brutality, continues to this day.  The sex trade in parts of the world is based on the slavery of children.  Slaves are kept to make money or to do the work that their masters don’t want to do.  Slaves make leisure possible.  Poor people, people who are economically disadvantaged, often are treated as slaves. In Ancient Palestine, slaves were the spoils of war; enemies, when caught, became slaves.  Where war was common, slaves were common. The chosen people of Israel used slaves in building projects, in their temple and their households. Slaves were treated as property, as woman and children and poor relations might be treated.   Continue reading

OCT 11, 2015, TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, RCL YEAR B

MARK | PART 6:  EXAGGERATING THE IMPOSSIBLE

A SERMON BY PASTOR CHICO MARTIN

Lections:  Heb 4:12-16; Mark 10:17-31

The Boston Red Sox baseball team finished last in 2012; Bobby Valentine, a very unpopular manager, was fired, and John Farrell was hired to lead the team in 2013.   That year, to everyone’s surprise, they won the World Series.  Alas, in 2014 (and 2015) they again finished last; The Red Sox went from last to first, and then from first to last…

Jesus says, “Many who are first will be last, and the last first,” and Jesus, I think, indeed is talking, indirectly, about baseball, and the see-saw movement of its winners and losers, because the standing of sports teams is much like the standing of a man in his community.  The better you perform, the higher your rank.  A winner’s status comes with rewards that a loser is denied, and (unless you are a Cubs fan) losers want to be winners, that is, until they lose hope.   Continue reading

OCT 4, 2015, NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, RCL YEAR B

MARK | PART 5:  ONE FLESH 

A SERMON BY PASTOR CHICO MARTIN

Lections: Gen 29:1-30; Mark 10: 2-16

Jesus has now left Galilee, and he returns to Judea, following the pilgrim route to Jerusalem, before crossing over the Jordon, into Perea, where John the Baptist had had his ministry. The grief Jesus must have felt when he received news of John’s death coincides with his retreat from public ministry. He has since kept his whereabouts secret; back on John’s home turf, however “crowds gathered to him again.”

John had been martyred after Salome, daughter of Queen Herodias, danced for King Herod Antipas at a court banquet.  In return for her dance, Antipas promised to give her anything she asked for.  Salome first consulted with her mother and then asked Herod for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.  Salome’s request was motivated by John the Baptist’s denunciation of her mother’s marriage to Antipas. Herodias had divorced her first husband, Philip, a half- brother of Antipas, and ruler of territory to the east of Galilee and the Decapolis.  According to Josephus, “Herodias took upon her to confound the laws of our country, and divorced herself from her husband while he was alive, and was married to Herod Antipas.”  Under Jewish law, only a husband could write a certificate of divorce, so Herodias’ divorce was illegal. Continue reading

SEPT 27, 2015, EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, RCL YEAR B

MARK | PART 4:  A CURIOUS USE OF SALT

A SERMON BY PASTOR CHICO MARTIN

Lections: Gen 3:1-7; Mark 9:38-50

Today we are faced with the curious use of salt… A friend of mine, who went to cooking school, will stop by the house every once in awhile and cook up a dinner for the two of us.  I watch him closely as he cooks, and I was surprised to discover how much salt went into his tasty meals.  Especially beef:  he vigorously salts his beef. Of course, not wanting to be outdone over a stove, I too have taken up this practice.  I can’t recall when I first learned that more salt is less good, but I don’t want extra blood pressure and hardened arteries, so I used scarcely any salt in my cooking.  Until just a few years ago, I would have answered “Yes” to Job when he asked, “Can something tasteless be eaten without salt; Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?”

Jesus uses salt as a metaphor three times in the last two verses of today’s Gospel reading. First he says, “For everyone will be salted with fire.” Then he says, “Salt is good:  but if the salt have lost its saltness, wherewith will ye season it?”  And last he says, “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”  Herein, I think, lies a mystery.  Continue reading